At Spark, we believe that one of the keys to a successful educational career lies in getting a good start. This is one of the reasons we’ve funded projects like Ready Freddy and Baby Promise. (Read more about these projects on our Funded Projects page.)

So you can imagine our excitement when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Obama Administration would be allocating $500 million in funds towards a competition that aims to raise the quality of early learning programs. The funding comes as part of the Race to the Top program designed to improve the quality of K-12 education.

“Specific competition requirements, priorities, and selection criteria are still under development. However, consistent with the statute, applicant States will need to take actions to:

  • Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs;
  • Design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and
  • Ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood.”

If successful, the competition will spur innovation in early learning systems, increase the quality of education and school attendance of high-need children, and even increase the percentage of children who graduate high school. After all, getting the right start can greatly increase a child’s chances of educational success.

Click here learn more about the competition and to offer your feedback to the Department of Education.